The SSLA is the third school library organization affiliated as a Special Subject Council of the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation. The first association for school librarians was formed at a meeting called by Lyle Evans at the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation building in Saskatoon on April 18, 1959. The aims of the new organization included: the promotion of the school library and school librarianship; the encouragement of the use of the school library within the curriculum and in the life of the school generally; and the encouragement of co-operation with all organizations concerned with strengthening educational programs.
The first annual conference was held at Valley Centre, on April 1-2, 1960. The conference theme was “What is good library service for Saskatchewan schools?” and the guest speaker was the Hon. W.S. Lloyd, Minister of Education. In 1964, Interim Standards for School Library Service in Saskatchewan, provincial guidelines to improve service, were well received.
In 1970, the association became the Saskatchewan Association of Educational Media Specialists (SAEMS). The reorganized association included the interests of the library and audiovisual specialists in the province. In 1988 the association changed its name again, to the Saskatchewan School Library Association (SSLA), with a priority on school libraries, their programs, and teacher-librarians. SSLA received international recognition in 1990 with a Commendation Award from the International Association of School Librarianship for the development of a leadership-training program to support resource-based learning.
SSLA was affiliated with the Canadian School Library Association (CSLA) and the Association of Teacher-Librarians in Canada (ATLC). In June 2004, these two organizations merged to form the Canadian Association of School Libraries (CASL). Notable teacher-librarians and school library advocates are honoured annually by the following awards: the John G. Wright Distinguished Service Award, the Connie Acton Award of Merit, the Art Forgay Award, and the Alixe Hambleton Bursary. In 2003, the SSLA received the Angela Thacker Award from ATLC for establishing the Willow Awards - Young Readers' Choice Awards in Saskatchewan. The SSLA's first website, developed in 1998, was later moved to the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation server.